To address a critical bus driver shortage and create a more efficient district transportation program, families whose children are eligible for bus transportation will be asked to complete a mandatory 2021-22 Student Bus Registration Form indicating their transportation needs for next school year. The form will ask families to indicate their general transportation needs for the start of the school year. The Transportation Department will use the data collected to create efficient routing for school buses. There are currently 22% fewer district bus drivers due to a national bus driver shortage and the impact of COVID on hiring and retaining drivers.
The district is optimistic that all students will return to in-person learning in 2021-22. However, it is unknown whether social distancing requirements will continue to be in place for students who ride the bus. These factors coupled with the bus driver shortage mean that the district must employ as many efficiencies as possible to ensure transportation is available for all who need it.
The two-question electronic Student Bus Registration form will be emailed directly to all families who have been eligible for transportation in 2020-21 and to newly registered families. Only one contact per family will receive the email and form. The form must be completed. Email reminders will continue to be received by families until the form has been filled out. The form will ask families to only indicate their general transportation needs.
Before the form is emailed to families, please read more about the BC Action Plan to address the bus driver shortage:
The district needs to create more efficiencies in bus routes to address a shortage of bus drivers for 2021-22. A national bus driver shortage has been made more challenging by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to COVID, the district had 87 bus drivers and routes. There are currently only 67 available bus drivers. As older drivers retire, it may take several years to see a net gain in bus drivers. The district must find ways to address this gap to ensure there are enough bus drivers to safely accommodate all students who need transportation. We are asking for your help!
What the district is doing
- Active driver recruitment and retention efforts
- Analyzing internal route data
- Bus route consolidations in 2020-21
- Creating optional “Walking School Bus” routes for 2021-22 in cooperation with the Bethlehem Police Department
- Introducing a Student Bus Registration process to create more efficient routing of school buses
What you can do to help
- If you have been transporting your child in 2020-21, please consider continuing that practice in 2021-22, if possible
- Complete the mandatory Student Bus Registration Form when you receive it. This electronic form will be emailed directly to all families who were eligible for transportation in 2020-21.
- Verify and/or update your child’s 2021-22 bus registration in Aspen.
You have questions. We have answers.
Will all parents K-12 receive the Student Bus Registration Form?
No. Only parents whose children have been eligible for bus transportation in 2020-21 will receive the form. Only one contact per family will receive the electronic form. Please keep in mind if your child is moving from elementary school to middle school, or middle school to high school, they may no longer be eligible for bus transportation depending on how far away they live from the school they will be enrolled in in 2021-22.
Where will I find the form?
The form is being emailed directly to all parents K-12 whose children are eligible for bus transportation. It will arrive during the week of June 14 (mid-week).
Is the new Student Bus Registration Form mandatory?
Yes, for 2021-22, all families whose child(ren) is/are eligible for bus transportation must notify the district of their child’s transportation needs for the new school year by completing the electronic form. The form is the most important tool the district has in creating efficient bus routes.
Is transportation eligibility changing?
No. Transportation eligibility will be the same as in recent years. Eligibility only changes as students move to middle school or to high school. Eligibility standards can be found below.
Who is eligible to ride the school bus?
- Elementary – All Students
- Middle School – Students who live more than 1/2 mile from school
- High School – Students who live more than 1 mile from school
What if I DON’T request transportation for the start of the school year but I find my child needs bus transportation during the year?
Students who do not choose bus transportation for the beginning of the year can always resume transportation with 48 hours’ notice to the Transportation Department.
What if I DO request transportation for the start of the school year but my child doesn’t end up riding the bus?
If a child does not ride the bus for a period of 10 days or more, the Transportation Department will reach out to the family to see if transportation is still needed. The district encourages families not to request transportation on the form if it’s not needed. Accuracy is important so the Transportation Department can plan appropriately for the start of the school year. Please remember you can always opt-in at any time during the year if your transportation needs change.
What if I have a “once-in-a-while” need for bus transportation for my child?
We would ask that you don’t request transportation on the form but instead contact the Transportation Department to arrange transportation for your child if it is only needed a few times a year. Bus transportation is always available for eligible students.
What about situations at the elementary level when schools will not allow “walkers” in the afternoon due to inclement weather?
In cases such as inclement weather when walking home from school is not allowed and more students need to use the bus, the Transportation Department will work with the school to provide bus transportation to all who need it on those days. Student safety is a priority.
Will there be an impact on ride times?
On a handful of routes, the maximum ride times could increase from the current 45 minutes to as much as 60 minutes.
Will my child’s bus stop change?
To create more efficient routing, the district will more closely follow the policy for assigning school bus stops. As a result, some drop-off and pick-up locations may change for some students, with students being required to walk to their bus stops. Fewer stops mean more efficient ridership and routes. The distance to student bus stops is outlined as part of Board Policy 8412.
How far does my child have to walk to a bus stop?
- Elementary: Up to 1/10 of a mile from home
- Middle School: Up to 1/2 mile from home
- High School: Up to 1 mile from home
What is a Walking School Bus?
The district is currently working with the Bethlehem Police Department to develop safe “walking school bus” routes for Eagle, Elsmere, Hamagrael and Slingerlands elementary schools. A walking school bus is a safe and fun way for children to get physical activity as they travel to and from school with adult supervision. Each “bus” walks along a set route with one or more trained adults taking the lead, picking children up at designated stops along the “bus” route and walking them to school. More information will be made available to families about the Walking School Bus as plans are developed.
What if I have additional questions?
Please email any questions about the transportation form to firstname.lastname@example.org